Avoiding an accident at work and what to do if this happens to you

July 13, 2020
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Posted by: Charlotte Dowson


Unfortunately, accidents at work are all too common.  According to the Labour Force Survey, 581,000 people sustained an accident at work in 2018/2019.  This is problematic for both employers and employees.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp we have specialist solicitors that can help you to bring an accident at work claim.  However, as personal injury solicitors we are committed to helping people avoid accidents at work. 

Common workplace accidents

There are many different industries that are subject to different common workplace accidents.  Some of the most common accidents that occur on worksites include:

  • Over exertion, such as when lifting or moving an object
  • Falling objects which can strike an employee
  • Collisions with equipment such as vehicles or fork lift trucks
  • Getting caught or trapped in machinery
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Falls from height such as from a ladder, roof or scaffold
  • Chemical exposure
  • Workplace fires
  • Electrocutions

Holidays and rest breaks

As a worker you are entitled to rest breaks and paid holidays.  You should make sure that you take what you are entitled to.  If you are tired and/or stressed at work and not building in breaks and holidays into your working routine, you are more at risk of suffering an accident and making an accident at work claim.

The impact of workplace accidents

It goes without saying that an accident at work is a bad thing for both employers and employees.  As a result of sustaining an injury you are likely to have time off work and in very serious cases may not return to the workforce at all. In the worst cases, accidents at work can be fatal.

Accidents at work can also affect employees who weren’t injured themselves but who become fearful about what could happen to them.  This can also cause low morale within the workforce which isn’t good for productivity.

Employers can be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and may be fined, depending on the severity of their breaches of health and safety legislation.

As an employee, you may be eligible make an accident at work claim against your employer for compensation for the injuries you sustained and the associated financial losses you have incurred.

Put simply, accidents at work can be devastating for employees and employers alike. 

Workplace accident claims and your rights

As an employee you are entitled to work in environments where the risks to your health and safety are minimised which reduces the risk of you sustaining injury at work.  Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is with your employer.  Your employer can protect you in the workplace in the following ways:

  • Providing you with health and safety training
  • Preparing risk assessments relating to the overall operating of the workplace and to specific tasks and work processes that are carried out
  • Labelling hazards
  • Providing you with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Discouraging short cuts and training you in the best way of carrying out any particular task
  • Keeping the workplace clean, tidy and well-organised to avoid tripping and slipping accidents
  • Conducting emergency drills to help you prepare for potential accidents like workplace fires or chemical spills
  • Promoting a strong safety culture in the workplace with positive reinforcement and reward for employees committing themselves to safety practices

As an employee, you also have a duty to help prevent accidents at work.  You can do this by following health and safety procedure so you don’t put your colleague’s health and safety at risk.  You can also report unsafe working practices, systems, machinery or equipment and those not following health and safety procedures properly to your supervisor.  Health and safety legislation requires employers and workers to cooperate, thereby reducing the risk of an accident at work claim.

If you have specific queries about health and safety in your workplace, and you worry that you or someone you work with is at risk from suffering an accident at work, speak to your supervisor, health and safety or trade union representative.

If you are an agency worker, then your health and safety is still protected by law and your employment agency has a duty to make sure that the person or company you are working for follows that law.  Your agency has as much of a duty as your actual employer to ensure that you avoid suffering an accident at work.

The Health and Safety Executive

If you are concerned about your health and safety at work and think you may be at risk of suffering an accident at work, you can contact the Health and Safety Executive for help and advice.  If you think someone is breaking the law and you can’t get anybody in your organisation to take action, you can tell the Health and Safety Executive who can investigate matters and the law will protect you from victimisation.

Making an accident at work claim

Unfortunately accidents at work do occur.  If you have had an accident at work then you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against your employer.  A civil claim can compensate you for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity and any associated financial losses you have incurred.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident and would like to make a claim, then you need to do so within 3 years of the date of your accident.  Court proceedings must be issued ahead of this deadline in order to protect any right to compensation that you may have.  Whilst there may be some exceptions to this rule, it is very important to take legal advice at as early a stage as possible.

What to do next

Whilst you may be hesitant or anxious to make a claim, be rest assured that you can speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor in confidence who deals with accident at work claims, to see whether you have a personal injury claim.  If you do have a claim and would like to pursue this then they will be able to put your mind at rest in relation to the legal process and what will be expected of you as a Claimant.  A successful legal claim could help you get your life back on track and may help prevent future accidents from occurring.

Charlotte Dowson is a senior solicitor in the Complex Injuries team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an accident or sub-standard medical treatment, contact Charlotte free of charge and in confidence on 020 3973 5020 or at charlottedowson@boltburdonkemp.co.uk for specialist legal advice.  Alternatively, you can complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Complex Injury team will contact you.

Posted by: Charlotte Dowson

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